Camping Backpack Buying Guide

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Purchasing a camping backpack can be intimidating. Not only are there hordes of different models to choose from, but there is also a big range in prices. Here are some tips for picking out the right camping backpack.
internal frame camping backpack

Buying a camping backpack is not always a walk in the park because of the various sizes, features and weights. But, with the help of a few charts, we’ve made the process simple and easy. Here is a general guide for buying the perfect camping backpack for all your needs.

Deciding on the Capacity

It’s tough trying to pick the size of your camping backpack, especially if you’re traveling long distances. Take a look at this chart to help you decide what size backpack you should purchase.

Length of Trip Size (in Cubic Inches) Weight of Backpack
Day Trip (1 day) 1,700 to 2,500 1 to 5 pounds
Weekend Trip (2-3 days) 3,000 to 4,000 2 to 6 pounds
Week Trip (5 or more days) 5,000+ 5+ pounds

Keep in mind that when you’re camping during the winter, you will need to take more clothes and supplies, so you may need a bigger capacity.

Matching your torso size

The size of the backpack you buy also depends on the length of your torso. Measure your torso, which is the length from the bottom of your neck to the top of your pelvic girdle, before buying a backpack and match your measurements in the following chart.

Size of the Pack Torso Measurements
Extra Small 15 inches and below
Small between 16 and 18 inches
Medium between 18 and 20 inches
Large 18 inches and above

External Frame vs. Internal Frame

The camping community debates between the two main types of backpack frames: external and internal. Each has its own feel and advantages, so it boils down to a matter of personal preference. Take a look at the qualities of each to see which appeals the most to you.

External Frame Internal Frame
Bigger Smaller
Cooler More mobile
Keeps weight off shoulders Provides better balance

Additional Backpack Features

The previous charts are the best way to find out how to pick the right backpack, but there are additional features to take into consideration. Some of these will make your life easier, but they also tend to add on more weight.

Feature Description
Waterproof Backpack Sealed to prevent water from seeping in
Ventilation Back panels that allow more air to your back so it’s cooler
Hydration Built-in hydration system that allows you to drink water straight from the backpack
Pockets The placement/amount of pockets are an important consideration
Padding Lumber pads and padded straps make heavier backpacks more comfortable